Tuesday, June 16, 2009

In the news

It's a small moment in a big picture, but I remember being thrilled and surprised at the point in To Kill A Mockingbird where Atticus Finch leaves for a couple of weeks for the annual meeting of the state assembly, of which he is a member. Two weeks out of fifty-two: Now that seems a reasonable amount of time for elected officials to gather and discuss how they will meddle in their constituents' lives.

I am one of those increasingly rare persons who is paid to follow, report and comment on the news. So much of the news has become monitoring and reporting on the actions of the government. Now, I'm not saying that the government doesn't need monitoring, but I'm increasingly convinced that the most important news is usually not what the government is doing.

In fact, the government is generally powerless to do anything beyond throwing a monkey wrench into the natural course of human activity. And so bodies like the state assembly gather regularly to assemble their monkey wrenches and determine where to throw them.

What if the news gatherers looked for evidence of worthy human activity beyond the confines of the village hall or the state capitol? At some point they, and we, might reach the conclusion that the best of us happens despite the government and that, in fact, those who would run our lives are little more than a nuisance to progress.


Blogger Vache Folle said...

Why don't news gatherers look outside gov't for news? They are biased in favor of easy and inexpensive news which the government provides in spades when politicians use the press to make their cases. The news writes itself. Other sources would involve additional expense and effort.

Another issue is that government tends to pretend to transparency while other institutions in civil society are harder to penetrate.

11:48 AM  

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